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Rediff.com  » News » Millions return to Bihar to celebrate Chhath festival

Millions return to Bihar to celebrate Chhath festival

November 19, 2012 17:35 IST

It is festive time in rural Bihar, as millions of migrant workers have come back to their native village to celebrate Chhath festival.

"I am happy to be home after a year to celebrate Chhath," said Bachchu Thakur from Raghunathpur village in Aurangabad district. He works in Ludhina in Punjab.

It was almost an emotional experience, said Upender Paswan from the same village, to breathe in the fresh air and touch the paddy growing in the fields.

"I cannot describe the happiness in words. I waited for months for this moment," said Paswan, who works in Delhi.

Mahender Yadav, a resident of neighbouring Piroo village, said the arrival of migrant workers has added flavour and life to the festival.

"My son, who works in Gujarat, has joined us to celebrate Chhath," Yadav said.

According to officials in the state government, at least two million migrant workers have already reached their homes.

"Chhath is one festival for which migrant workers insist on being in Bihar, so that they can be part of family gatherings and the celebrations," said a police official.

Bachchu and Upendra are busy meeting their friends and other villagers.

"We are enjoying every minute because after a few days, we will have to leave our village to go back to the cities where we work. We will be back only by next Chhath," they said.

The four-day Chhath festival began on Saturday and ends on Tuesday morning. Millions of people, most of them married women, throng the river banks in the morning to bathe before preparing traditional food.

Celebrated six days after Diwali, Chhath is dedicated to Surya, the Sun god. During the festival, married women observe a fast for 36 hours. Devotees offer wheat, milk, sugarcane, bananas and coconuts to the gods.

The main ritual is known as arghya -- when devotees stand waist-deep in water and offer prayers to the Sun god on the banks of rivers.

M I Khan In Patna